Venn : Innovation in the Crossovers

Changing from the London coffee scene to the Parisian, I started to notice the cut and copy approach to the offering which accompanied specialty coffee. The exposed brickwork, copper finishings, heavy ceramics and beautiful tiles had become interior design prerequisites. Food wise, these were accompanied with the banana breads, the avocado toasts,
the chia covered whatever-you-likes, the yogurt pots and various compote add-ons.

The stable constant in this was the coffee of the Third Wave, which spread internationally whilst retaining a relatively consistent lexicon and type of drink offer. The coffee was what I expected, but the food alongside it, I felt had the cultural
freedom to adapt to its surroundings. So when I arrived in Paris, I was surprised to see that the food in the coffeeshops had
met a stumbling block.

The food was glued to the coffee, and it meant that the specialty coffee shop remained exclusive to itself, or at least, less accessible to the cultures it planted into. When I moved to France, I expected to see miniature palmiers on the saucers of the flat whites, a salade à l'huile de noix on the lunch menu, and slices of tarte tropezienne in glass cloches by the till.

But I didn’t see this anywhere, and still don’t.

Specialty coffee in the larger sense of what is around the cups, has created with it a culture bubble, that should grow to adapt to the rich heritage of each country it touches. The artisanal aspect of our industry can be pushed so much further if we dig deep into the ingredients and recipes of that country’s heritage.


Enter to the stage, my dear friend the Venn diagram :

(Flat white culture) + (Viennosserie) =
(Deconstructed palmier + crème)


I’ve been thinking a lot about the term “innovation in the crossovers”, and it’s a tool I have always used when trying to come up with new ideas for a design project. Take two different concepts, and consider the possibilities between the two.

E.g :

Red + Green
Hat + Climate change
Flat white + Viennosserie
Bouquet + Death


In this vein, the benefit of the venn diagram in the coffee industry would look like this :


The above image represents to me the potential which is available to coffee shops should they utilise it. The clear objective of our industry is to harness the quality potential
of our products (Eg: hand reared, grass-fed, foraged, organic, directly traded etc.), and make them available in a counter offer to commercial equivalents.

Coffee shop culture in this way allows the customer to taste things which they may not have in the shopping trolley.
In my opinion, an ideal specialty coffee shop culture should be looked at in a similar way to local produce restaurant culture.

I would love to see the food offering pushed to represent
the local heritage which surrounds the shop. To step away
from the concept that if you’re in the proximity of a well
extracted espresso, an avocado toast is not far behind.


Innovation in the crossovers.